TRION — It’s been quite a while since the Ringgold Middle School wrestling Tigers ascended to the top of the North Georgia Athletic Conference mountain, but that all changed last Saturday afternoon when the Blue-and-White captured the NGAC conference duals.
They didn’t have to wait long, however, to add another trophy to their case.
Ringgold put seven in the finals, claimed two individual championships, and had 11 of its wrestlers place in the top four as they left Trion on Saturday with the season-ending NGAC traditional tournament title, polishing off the conference title sweep.
The Tigers held a 174-145 lead over Catoosa County rival Heritage going into the championship and consolation finals with Trion and Gordon Lee, the regular season’s top two dual teams, still within striking distance.
The Generals, who fell 39-36 to Ringgold in the NGAC Duals final a week ago, saw all five of its finalists win individual championships, but they had just one third-place finisher as compared to three for the Tigers.
Ringgold finished with 197 points as they held off Heritage (176) for the conference crown. Host Trion (167) had three champions and placed third, while Gordon Lee (152) claimed two individual titles to place fourth in one of the closer final team standings in a number of years.
“(Getting the NGAC sweep) just shows how tough our kids are, mentally and physically,” Ringgold head coach Barrett Blankenship said. “It’s always a battle this time of year with sickness and injuries. It’s tough on everybody, but I was proud of my guys for showing up and showing what kind of heart they have. They wrestled better than what they were seeded and that’s what won us the tournament.”
LaFayette (101 points) placed fifth, followed by Chattanooga Valley (80), Lakeview (73), Rossville (63), Dade County (30), and Sadle Ridge (6).
Griffin Green (140 pounds) and Enrique Marabella (HWT) won their weight class for Ringgold, while Skyler Lohmann (78), Jarrett Fuqua (94), Ethan Rohren (100), Will Broom (108), and Matthew Davis (165) finished second. Holden Moss (115), Daulton Schley (123), and Garrison Rhudy (130) each took third with Patch Williams (72) placing fourth.
Logan Skeen (72), Tanner Stone (78), Trevor Milbing (100), Zaine Burton (165), and Jeffrey Curtis (180) represented the Generals atop the podium. Brandon Cass (140) was the lone third-place finisher, while Chandler Hill (108), Kyler Jones (115), and Ridge Perkens (HWT) took fourth.
Gordon Lee’s Jarrett Lassetter (123) and Braden Jarvis (130) won titles for the Trojans with Jarvis later being named as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler. Patrick Howard (165), Caleb Vines (180), and Jared Spradlin (HWT) each took second. Trent Beaty (78) and Avery Geer (94) placed third, while Garison Heiden (100) was fourth.
LaFayette was shut out of the first-place medals, but had runner-up finishers in Drake Bing (72), Corbin Smith (115), and Gage Smith (130). Devarus Bowman (86) was third, while Brady Beard (94), Colton Lane (140), and Cody Deal (150) were fourth.
Jacob Mariakis won the 108-pound title for Chattanooga Valley. Chris Prescott (86) placed second, while Oliver Holden (100) was third.
Caleb Chopane (94) won first place for Lakeview. Jerry Jackson (72) and Chris Carl (HWT) were third with Latham Stevens (86) placing fourth.
Rossville had a runner-up in Jay Crawford (123) along with fourth-place finishers in Ian Crawford (130), Ryan McGill (165), and Tyler McGill (180).
Saddle Ridge, making its NGAC tournament debut, did not have a wrestler place in the top four.
The other conference champions were Trion’s Lincoln Maddux (86), Cole Luallen (115), and Logan Blevins (150).
Blankenship said the success of the local high school teams just proves how tough the NGAC is when it comes to wrestling.
“Our league is definitely one of the toughest around,” he added. “Year-in and year-out, it’s just a solid league with tough lineups from top to bottom. You can’t have an off day and expect to do well in this league.”